Daily Record

My bhoys were right at it again


players as they went toe to toe with the La Liga giants.

But they couldn’t get that elusive first home group stage victory in the competitio­n for a decade as they were twice pegged back after goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and Luis Palma – despite Diego Simeone’s men going down to 10 men.

Despite posting their first point on the board in Group E, the Hoops’ task of qualifying became tougher with Feyenoord beating Lazio.

Celtic now have backto-back away games in Madrid and Rome in their bid to qualify for knockout European football after Christmas.

But when asked about that prospect, Rodgers said: “I’m not really thinking about that.

“We got a point, a very good point in the game, and we’ll take that into our next game.

“The team and the performanc­e is what I’m focused on and interested in. This is obviously a tough group for us but we’ve taken our first point in the group. Arguably we should have had more points but my focus is really on the performanc­e, which was outstandin­g.” When quizzed on Atletico Madrid’s quality, he said: “I’d rather talk about the quality of my team. I thought they were absolutely superb in the game. We scored two outstandin­g goals and for that first 45 minutes against a top team we were great.

“They’ve got big quality so you always expect that but they kept fighting and working until the very end.

“But a brilliant performanc­e and to play to that level against an outstandin­g side shows the growth of the team.

“We aim to impose our style and mentality every game and everything from the defending – we were very much together – and with the ball, the pressure, and courage to take the ball and pass it at speed and open up a very difficult to team open up... everything you’d want to see within a game, we saw.”

Rodgers made a personnel and tactical change when Nat Phillips replaced Luis Palma to the despair of some fans.

He added: “I could see at that point our backline getting stretched because they move the ball from side to side really well and I just felt that maybe we were a little fatigued.

“Bringing him on, we went 3-5-2 and the extra body up front was to give pressure and help us defend when they stretched the line.”

Celtic keeper Joe Hart said: “Atletico are resolute, they made it difficult for us. They’re not a team that’s going to panic going down to 10 men. All the tricks came out.

“Our first half was electric. We’re getting there, just one more little push.”

 ?? ?? HaRT To HeaRT Keeper Joe with Atletico’s Stefan Savic
HaRT To HeaRT Keeper Joe with Atletico’s Stefan Savic

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